Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Farewell to Willie’s Place

On Sirius XM, the “Willie’s Place” channel is advertised as “The honky tonk that never closes.” But the entertainment and truck stop mecca an hour south of Dallas that bears the same Willie’s Place moniker is taking its final bow under that name.

The last day of operation for the fuel stop, restaurant, entertainment venue and saloon at Carl’s Corner in Hillsborough County is Monday, Jan. 31. New owners will reportedly take over Feb. 1.

The confirmed business development was a bit slow to see daylight. Some of us heard the news two weeks ago from OOIDA Member Jan McCarter, who was at Willie’s Place and heard the news from employees. Later, she posted on Facebook a scanned copy of a note that was alleged to have been written by Willie Nelson himself.

Employees told Land Line about the closing in confidence a few days ago, and now co-owner Steve Gilcrease is confirming some details to local media.

Financing was the biggest obstacle, Gilcrease said, as the complex took out a multimillion-dollar loan and could not pay it back.

“We tried to negotiate it down, but everything fell through,” Gilcrease told KWTX.

The banks filed a foreclosure lawsuit against the company, WN Truck Stop Inc., in April 2010. According to KWTX, a new owner will be handed the keys on Tuesday, Feb. 1.

At the time of this posting, it was not known what would happen to the “Willie’s Place” satellite radio channel which broadcasts from the theater at the truck stop.

Carl’s Corner is named after the truck-stop’s owner, Carl Cornelius, who incorporated the 15-acre complex and serves as its mayor. He and Nelson are long-time friends.

Nelson, Cornelius and Gilcrease are partners in a biodiesel venture known as BioWillie. The BioWillie biodiesel plant located in back of the truck stop will remain in Nelson’s control, according to the TV report.